NASA + Sword GRC

How NASA uses Active Risk Manager across the Agency on different sized projects and by various functional groups because of its configurability







The Background

Since its inception in 1958, NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) has accomplished many great scientific and technological feats. NASA technology also contributed to the military-industrial complex, where adaptations have benefited us mere earthlings. For example in 2000 NASA started a program to develop the next generation of lithium advanced batteries. The new lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries could mean that a 12 year old who plays his or her hand-held electronic game for 2 hours per day would not have to buy any more batteries until they were 64 years old!

NASA remains a leading force in scientific research and in stimulating public interest in aerospace exploration, as well as science and technology in general.

At the heart of NASA is exploration and with exploration comes risk. These risks take many forms and fundamental to every mission requirement is safety. If it cannot be done safely then it will not be done at all. Therefore safety issues touch every aspect of risk management within every NASA mission, irrespective or importance, location or budget.

According to Phil Napala, Office of Safety and Mission Assurance at NASA Headquarters, “Mission success stands on the foundation of our unwavering commitment to safety. Science is king at NASA and to make advances in science risk is inevitable. We work on the basis of there being many levels of risk and to manage these levels we have massive amounts of data much of it in islands around the organization, therefore we needed a software solution to improve communication, encourage collaboration and to increase the amount of time dedicated to engineering rather than viewing graphic manipulation.”

Following a review of the risk management solutions available NASA selected Active Risk Manager as the technical solution for the management processes associated with safety, performance, cost and schedule risks.

Active Risk Manager proved to be the most sophisticated and complete risk management solution we looked at. The flexibility and configurability of this product make it suitable to be used across the Agency on different sized projects and by various functional groups.

Phil Napala, Office of Safety and Mission Assurance, NASA

General Services Administration Endorsement

The fact that Sword GRC formerly had been approved by the General Services Administration (GSA) played an important part in the selection process. This meant that Active Risk Manager had been reviewed and Sword GRC formerly Strategic Thought had successfully negotiated the rigorous United States Government Service Agency vendors-supplier’s approval process.

Phil Napala says, “We spent time reviewing the market and Sword GRC stood out as the company to work with. They had a first class product, which was on the GSA schedule and secondly because the people are smart and very willing to work with NASA in terms of any specific technical requirements. They certainly have a “customer” first attitude and were prepared to help. Their business ethic was a refreshing change and we liked that approach. We decided to initially install the product in a small selection of Head Quarter’s programs to standardize and improve communication and collaboration of risk information. ”

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